How To Explain Flaws In a Web Design Provided By a Client?

Thanks for A2A.

For starters, my background is in technology and I’m not a designer by heart. Heck, I am partially colorblind as well which doesn’t help telling between nuances of the green and blue gamma.

With that in mind, I tend to often be on both sides of the table every week.

In either case, I always rely on data and case studies:

  1. Reputable sources on design
  2. Popular brands innovating with modern web concepts
  3. Design competitions and contests
  4. Schoolbooks on design (typography, color schemes, composition, proportions)
  5. Trendy landing pages or designs for sale

I apply that regardless of whether I’m discussing a design with my team or with a client who claims to have an eye for detail.

The first step of establishing rapport with a client is taking a lean and affirmative approach.

If their design suggestion is outdated or outright incorrect, find some common points and use them as a basis. Appreciate their effort and politely include your expertise.

“Seems like a great concept – definitely something that we could work with.”

“I love the color scheme and the typography. Based on working with X, Y, Z, we have to sort out the alignment and the spacing and we’ll get there.”

“That’s a great font you’ve picked for the site! I believe that we can use it as a basis and introduce other modern and innovative concepts that would really make it pop.”

“That’s a pretty solid design you’ve got there. We may have to adjust for your target audience a bit in order to build a stronger bond with your overall brand identity but we’ll definitely use that as a starting point.”

“It seems like you have followed some of the best concepts from material design. Let me iterate with our creative team and propose some additions that would fit perfectly with that and provide outstanding user experience for your clientele.”

You don’t have to tell them that their concept sucks or you’ll redo most of it. But a good word goes a long way – and praising their credentials would make it easier to solidify your work with your practical experience and your own accomplishments.

They have hired you to do some web design work – which obviously means that they trust your expertise. And you’re expected to bring some of it to the table.

Which is where case studies and practical use cases come in play.

The second step is backing your data with some notable advice and expertise from the best players out there.

When we pitch some design concepts to a problematic client (often claiming to have some design background) we:

  • Provide a portfolio of successful businesses targeting the same audience that follow most of those ideas.
  • Point to industry sources and research papers discussing the proper selection of a color scheme or the right fonts.
  • Outline specific spacing problems or layout hiccups that violate the best industry practices.

Hard data is really hard to argue against – even in the web design field where everything could be “subjective” in a creative mind’s head.

But web design is still aiming for results. It is designed to sell. And that also incorporates a lot of insight from the marketing world, branding, user experience, even behavioral psychology.

And your client is hardly a master in all of those areas. So using some practical tips and proven suggestions works really, really well.

Whenever a mockup targets a page where you can track conversions, you can try to do an A/B test. If designs aren’t too far apart, build two identical pages that differ a bit (or more) and measure conversions. Best-case scenario, your expertise have led to a better converting page that sells more – which is an indisputable truth that your client has to accept.

Related: Mario Peshev’s answer to What if the best way to approach your boss or client if their idea won’t work?